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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Circle II Circle

Burden Of Truth

Review by Greg Olma

I was a bit concerned receiving this CD to review. I have been a fan of Zak Stevens since I first heard him in Savatage. When he first came back onto the scene with his new band Circle II Circle, he unleashed quite a statement with Watching In Silence. It’s too bad for him that he set the bar so high because I am not the only one who felt that The Middle Of Nowhere was a letdown. I was afraid that Burden Of Truth would follow in the same footsteps as the previous effort. Once the opening track kicked in, all those fear were wiped away. Each of the tracks is a well crafted piece of metal and the production makes sure that we hear everything perfectly. Stevens sounds great throughout and it makes me wonder what the problem was with The Middle Of Nowhere. Now, I won’t go so far as to say that this is as good as Watching In Silence but it comes remarkably close. I have read that this is a concept album based around the DaVinci Code. While parts of it fit into that storyline, I can’t see all of it. It doesn’t really matter though, the material is strong enough to stand on it’s own without a concept.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Who Am I To Be?
The “story” starts off with this mid-paced rocker that would have fit nicely onto Savatage’s Edge Of Thorns. Right away, Stevens’s vocals are delivered forcefully but clearly showcasing his talents brilliantly. The guitar work is also first class.
A Matter of Time
This is typical old school American metal but don’t let that dissuade you. It may be typical in theory but the delivery saves it from mediocrity. The whole band can take an average tune and raise it up to be a classy rocker that will warrant repeated plays.
Heal You
The beginning reminds me of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero.” Even though all the pieces are there like good vocals, good guitar work, and a catchy chorus, there is just something missing. It may be because the other material on offer here is much better but either way, this is kind of an average track.
Revelations
Stevens has a great sense of melody and nowhere else on this CD does it show more than this tune. The track starts off with some heavy modern riffing but as it moves into the verses and chorus, the vocals carry a melody over this riffing that make it catchy yet still retaining the heaviness. The more I listen to this album, the more difficult it is for me to pick a favorite but I do keep coming back to this one an awful lot.
Your Reality
This is a slower paced rocker which is nice because the album flows in different tempos making it interesting. The middle section has a Savatage feel but it still retains that Circle II Circle texture.
Evermore
For a short little track (not even 3 minutes), this leaves quite an impression. The best way for me to describe it is that it has a bit of a swagger to it. The chorus is really catchy and while I would want this to be a longer tune, it does just what it needs to do and leaves. The band deserves to be commended for this. So many groups beat a good riff to death making the song overly long. Circle II Circle shows confidence in their material to make this just the right length, even if that means it is short.
The Black
The main part of the song has Tony Iommi riffing all over it. This could have easily come off one of the Tony Martin era Black Sabbath records. The guitar solo at the end may not sound anything like Tony Iommi but it is quite good none the less.
Messiah
The Black Sabbath comparisons continue with this track that has a Black Sabbath Vol.4 vibe. It’s not a bad tune but the other tracks are much better. I would not skip over it while listening to the CD but I also would not go back to hear this one again.
Sentenced
Previously I mentioned that I have trouble picking a favorite off this album because there is a plethora of quality material. Depending on the day, this is another cut that keeps getting repeated plays. It is sort of the “ballad” on the record but it rocks out during the chorus. Zak really puts in a good vocal on this piece.
Burden of Truth
This is the longest and most epic track on the disc. Just like “Sentenced,” it has mellow verses but more rocking choruses. I would have picked this to be the last song on the record. Overlapping vocals end the song and this goes on a bit too long, especially since this isn’t the last tune.
Live As One
A piano intro starts off this Savatage sounding cut. In the middle, there is a piano guitar solo that fits the song beautifully. It has a bit of an optimistic feel to the lyrics, which ends the disc on a high point.
 
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